Selling your used electronics, like old iPads, Samsung phones, or laptops, is a great way to get rid of unwanted devices and make some money while you free up storage space in your home. Online companies that specialize in buying your old devices often require you to take some steps to help them out. One of these steps is deleting all your information off your phone and resetting it to its original state.

You may delete all your apps and factory reset your device, but in many cases, this is not enough. Before selling your smartphone to an online company, here are some of the steps you must take to ensure all your information is permanently deleted.

Before Learning About Factory Resetting

Before you begin the process of deleting information from your phone, make sure everything you need or want to keep has been backed up. These days, many apps like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, encrypted text messaging services, cloud document services, and photo storage will all upload information to the cloud. It may take a few minutes to retrieve your saved contacts and data from cloud storage, but you can easily transfer information to your new phone.

Many people who are concerned about privacy turn off these options for automatic storage. This keeps personal photos, location data, private conversations, and more secure from prying eyes. However, it makes transferring this information to storage, then to your new phone, even more important.

One simple method is to transfer as much important data to your SIM card as possible and remove it. You can also use a microSD storage card or a USB cord to transfer information from your phone to your computer for safer keeping. Then, you can log out of all apps and delete these from your phone individually.

Just in case, keep your old smartphone’s serial number in a file for reference to help you trace identity thieves.

How to Permanently Delete Data on Different Smartphones

There are several steps you can take to remove your personal data permanently from your smartphone, but the process can vary according to the phone manufacturer.

For iPhones, follow these steps

  1. Go to Settings from the home screen.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Scroll to the bottom where it says Reset.

  4. Select this option.

  5. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

  6. Tap Erase iPhone again to confirm.

  7. Enter your passcode.

  8. Enter your Apple ID and password to turn off Activate lock .

  9. Deactivate Find My iPhone.

This is the most basic method, which is a factory reset.

In newer iPhones, the encryption key is erased along with the factory reset, so reconstructing your data is impossible for hackers. However, it does not delete all the info from your phone. There are still places where your personal information could linger. A new user may abuse this access, so it is important to wipe everything.

To fully delete every piece of personal data from your phone before selling it, there are iPhone-specific service apps like iMyFone Umate Pro, which have several settings to wipe your phone’s storage and hard drive clean.

For Android devices, the process may look something like this

  1. Encrypt your device. This is the strongest way to prevent data from being recovered. Encryption scrambles all the information on your phone, so it is encoded, making it harder to steal in several ways. To decrypt the information, you must have a special passkey.
    In general, your data is safer if it is encrypted. Turning this on and then performing a factory reset will clean your Android device better than just the factory reset itself.

  2. Overwrite the data. Part of the reason a factory reset alone does not totally delete all your data is because the files that contained information about your data will not be erased or overwritten. Fortunately, this is a manual process you can perform. You can overwrite your old data with “junk data,” which is useless to anyone trying to steal your information.
    Once you have performed a factory reset, start the device again, but do not log into any services or apps like Google or Facebook. Instead, record a video at the highest resolution possible for as long as you can. Repeat this as many times as needed until all your space is filled up. Once all the memory on the device has been filled, perform another factory reset.

  3. Repeat. If you’re still concerned about personal information that had been on your phone, perform this process (videoing and then resetting) a few more times. However, going through this once should create enough overwritten junk data that your information is safe.

Deleting Sensitive Conversations on Messaging Apps

You may also choose to delete message data from your phone before you remove other information and factory reset the device. This process means you are fully logged out of your messaging apps, and any potential threads of data have been deleted further, so your personal and business conversations cannot be traced.

On Samsung devices, for example, you can take these steps: 

  1. Open the App Drawer.

  2. Tap the Settings app.

  3. Scroll down and tap Apps.

  4. Scroll down to Messaging App and tap that.

  5. Tap Storage.

  6. Tap Clear Data.

Since messaging services upload conversations to their servers, you will not lose your conversations in apps like Twitter Direct Messages or Google Hangouts. Instead, the kernel of information on your phone will be removed. You can then follow the steps above to delete, overwrite, and factory reset your device.

Can You Really Be Sure All Your Data Is Deleted?

Although you can take the above steps to permanently delete your access to information on your phone, it may be better to find an online company that works with computer specialists to delete information for you if you’re planning to sell the device.

While you can work with the available programs on your phone, unless you are a software, firmware, and hardware expert, you may not understand how to take information completely off the phone so it is like new for a new user. Having an expert delete your information through a certified program means your information is safe.

You can then get cash for your phone. Enlisting an expert means less hassle to sell your old electronics.